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Poetry Recommendations for Year 1

For children 5 - 6 years old

Last updated June 25th, 2024

For children 5 – 6 years old

Poetry recommendations for year 1: All teachers should have one very good anthology. For Year 1, The Puffin Book of Fantastic Poems fits the bill. Edited by former teacher June Crebbin, this delightful collection includes classic poems by poets such as Walter de la Mare and Robert Louis Stevenson and contemporary poems. The themes of family, animals and everyday experiences are perfect for this age group.

Animals and the natural world go down well with children aged five years and up. We particularly like Nicola Davies’s A First Book of the Seawhich draws on the author’s knowledge and love of the ocean and its wildlife. Emily Sutton’s illustrations capture a full range of moods and accurately depict the wildlife that can be found in the sea and on the shore. This thematic collection is an excellent resource for classes studying the seaside and coasts. A First Book of Nature, illustrated by Mark Hearld, is a perfect companion volume.

We love Watch Me Bloom, a bouquet of Haiku poems for budding naturalists’ from author-illustrator Krina Patel-Sage. It’s a collection of 24 poems, each based on a different floral species found in the UK.

Children of this age often have the experience of looking after a first pet. However, there are no rabbits, hamsters, kittens, or puppies in Elli Woollard’s Perfectly Peculiar Pets; instead, armadillos, flamingos, umbrella birds, quokkas, and iguanas in this quirky collection full of silly poems.

Matt Goodfellow’s Caterpillar Cake is full to the brim with poems to read aloud. The poems explore children’s everyday experiences, such as skimming pebbles, playing in the bath, taking a trip to the zoo, or playing hide-and-seek; Krina Patel-Sage’s illustrations are bright and uplifting. It’s a well-designed book in which the text is clear to read so children can revisit their favourites and share them in the book corner.

For picture book poetry Dom Conlon and Anastasia Izlesou’s series gets close up with nature. Of the first book, Leap, Hare, Leap,

Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat is regularly voted one of the nation’s favourite poems. Charlotte Voake’s illustration of this whimsical classic is delightful.

Our top picks from recent titles

Tree Whispers

By Mandy Ross. Illustrated by Juliana Oakley. Published by Child's Play.

“Our leaves rustle, Our roots whisper. If you were a tree, what would you whisper to me?” Mandy Ross has been listening closely to the trees, from the willow to the eucalyptus and the sycamore to the oak. These fascinating poems, beautifully illustrated by Juliana Oakley, imagine the songs they are singing to us and the verses they speak. With a strong environmental message, the book awakens us to the rich, unique and irreplaceable biodiversity of tree life and the many species that depend on it – including ourselves.

Our reviewer, Kelly Ashley, writes, ‘I particularly enjoyed the illustrations provided on the end pages by Oakley, offering a visual dictionary of different types of seeds. This would be a wonderful opportunity for viewing and sketching in nature, encouraging readers to see which types of seeds can be found in their local area.’

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Blow, Wind, Blow

By Dom Conlon. Illustrated by Anastasia Izlesou. Published by Graffeg.

This is the third book in the Wild Wanderers series, written by Dom Conlon and illustrated by Anastasia Izlesou. From the leap of a hare and the gentlest breeze to a blazing star and ancient trees, Wild Wanderers is a series of poetic explorations that will inspire children across the world. Each book takes a gentle and lyrical journey through biodiversity, environment, and challenges to unlock a world of wonder.

Our reviewer Kate Hitchings writes, ‘This is a work of imagination that helps children to see the natural world afresh. It is a book to be shared whether in the classroom or at home, a book to be read aloud and joined in with.’ 

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A First Book of the Sea

By Nicola Davies. Illustrated by Emily Sutton. Published by Walker Books.

A spellbinding collection of poems about the oceans of the world and their shores. With this book, children can swim alongside dolphins and flying fish, pore over rockpools, and sail from pole to pole and back, learning about everything from phosphorescence and plankton to manta rays and puffins – all in the comfort of their bedroom. Emily Sutton’s exquisite watercolours capture the breathless excitement of a child’s first glimpse of the sea, the majesty of ancient trading ships and the sheer, staggering wonder of the humpback whale.

Our reviewer, Caroline Bradley, writes, ‘Almost every aspect of sea life you could imagine has been covered here: the shore, the pier, divers, reefs, trawling, whales, sharks, crabs, a shipwreck to name but a few of the subjects that are introduced.’

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Caterpillar Cake

By Matt Goodfellow. Illustrated by Krina Patel-Sage. Published by Otter-Barry Books.

A diverse and inclusive collection of original poems for younger children by a top performance poet. Would you like to eat a caterpillar cake? Join a rocket race into space? See crazy crocodiles at the zany zoo or play with a furry, purry cat? Wherever these 16 fun-filled poems lead you, they will brighten your day. This brilliant, read-aloud collection for young children has lots to join in with, and lots to explore through the brightly coloured illustrations.

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A Dinosaur at the Bus Stop

By Kate Wakeling. Illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon. Published by Otter-Barry Books.

Choose your favourite sound, bob like a robin, soak up the stillness of the forest, jump like a startled kangaroo or go to a monster jamboree. But keep an eye out for a dinosaur at the bus stop! Funny, gentle, thoughtful, magical – this is an outstanding collection for younger readers from an award-winning poet whose beautifully crafted, musical poetry will be loved by younger children.

Our reviewer, Sam Keeley, writes, ‘A Dinosaur at the Bus Stop is a poetry box of delights filled to the brim with treasures. There really is something for everyone, and every poem is crafted with the utmost consideration for the beauty of language. There are quieter, more reflective poems such as In the Quiet of the Trees, which provide a balance to the more boisterous poems like The Washing Machine Jive. The reader is constantly being invited to share their thoughts and feelings which makes this book perfect to share in KS1.’

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Zim Zam Zoom

By James Carter. Illustrated by Nicola Colton. Published by Otter-Barry Books.

16 poems to read out loud – perfect for sharing at home or at school

Watch Me Bloom

By Krina Patel-Sage. Illustrated by Krina Patel-Sage. Published by Lantana.

Mindful haiku poems to help us rediscover our natural surroundings, without traveling too far from home. Some flowers are the subject of nursery rhymes and childhood games, while others help us celebrate love, remember our homelands or mark the ping seasons. These mindful haiku poems invite us to explore twenty-four flower species growing close to home, from wildflower meadows to urban window boxes.

Our reviewer, Vikki Varley, writes, ‘Particular attention is paid to the characters’ hair and head coverings to reflect ethnic and cultural diversity. There is a clever interplay between words and pictures which connects the meaning of the poems to human emotionsx.

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Teachers' Treasures

Classic and established favourites

The Puffin Book of Fantastic Firts Poems

By June crebbin. Illustrated by Nick Sharratt. Published by Puffin.

A great first poetry book; the poems span time, from Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter de la Mare right up to date with Roger McGough and Michael Rosen. Themes covered, such as mealtimes, playtime, animals, family and bedtime, really appeal to youngreaders. A truly lovely collection of all-time favourite poems.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat

By Edward Lear. Illustrated by Charlotte Voake. Published by Puffin.

Edward Lear’s classic poem, The Owl and the Pussy-cat, beautifully illustrated by Charlotte Voake and introduced with a foreword by Julia Donaldson

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat…

Edward Lear’s classic poem has delighted readers of all ages for generations. It is given new life by Charlotte Voake’s exquisite illustrations in this beautiful new edition. Introduced by a foreword from world-renowned children’s author and Lear devotee, Julia Donaldson, this is a book to be treasured by Lear fans both old and young.